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June 26, 2003

Injuries Cost China Over $12 Billion A Year

Injuries from automobile crashes, drowning and other causes cost China $12.5 billion each year in medical expenditures and lost productivity, according to a study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. They calculate the human toll annually to be 12.6 million years of potentially productive years of life lost (PPYLL), which is greater than the years lost from respiratory disease, heart disease, cancer or infectious disease. The study is published in the June 2003 edition of Injury Prevention.

“Injuries pose a tremendous economic and social burden for the Chinese people,” said co-author, Timothy Baker, MD, MPH, professor with the School’s Department of International Health. “The loss of 12 million productive working years annually is equivalent to having 12 million workers on strike every year. This is greater than the 9.7 million new workers entering China’s labor force each year. Injury prevention should be a top priority for Chinese health officials,” explained Dr. Baker.

According to the study, motor vehicle crashes, suicide, drowning, poisoning and falls accounted for 80 percent of the productivity lost from injury-related death. Car crashes made up 25 percent of all injury deaths. The annual PPYLL from injuries was 12.6 million years. Respiratory disease accounted for an annual PPYLL of 10.2 million years lost, cardiovascular disease accounted for 9 million, cancer claimed 8 million and infectious disease accounted for 2.3 million.

“Our study shows injuries cost China more than $12 billion each year, which is more than any other disease group and more than three times their total public health expenditure. More resources and programs are needed to prevent injuries,” said Dr. Baker.

To calculate the economic impact and loss of productivity, the researchers analyzed data collected in 1999 from China’s National Center for Health Information and Statistics, Ministry of Public Health and from the 1998 Second National Service Survey. The economic burden was measured in direct costs in hospital fees, physician fees and medicine. Indirect costs were calculated from lost wages and productivity. The researchers determined an individual’s productive years to be age 15 to 64 to calculate the PPYLL.

“Productivity losses from injury in China” was written by Y. Zhou, T.D. Baker, K. Rao, and G. Li.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.